The Gulf of Mexico has a vast and unique deep-sea environment that supports the health and diversity of the broader ecosystem. These mesophotic and deep benthic communities are a foundation of the Gulf of Mexico food web, and were injured across a large area by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
An important aspect of the projects’ planning and design is providing transparency in restoration decision-making. Following the planning phase, the Open Ocean Trustees provided a summary and analysis of site-specific actions to be implemented in 2022, and later in the implementation phase between 2023 and 2027. The Trustees have completed reviews of these analyses that ensure its mesophotic and deep benthic projects are consistent with the evaluation and environmental compliance provided for the projects in the Final Open Ocean Restoration Plan 2 and Environmental Assessment.
The documents listed in “Additional Resources” contain these analyses.
The Open Ocean Trustee Implementation Group’s Final Open Ocean Restoration Plan 2 (PDF, 493 pages) included approval for approximately $126 million for four projects to restore mesophotic and deep benthic communities impacted by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. A draft of the plan was released for a 79-day public comment period. The Trustees reviewed the comments and finalized the plan in 2019.
An initial two-year planning and design phase was completed in 2022 marked the beginning of a five-year field and lab-based implementation stage. During the planning and design stage, specific geographic areas to conduct activities were identified and prioritized using input provided by a wide range of deep-sea experts and stakeholders.
In 2022, the projects completed eight expeditions to map, assess, monitor, and sample deep-sea habitats in some of the Gulf of Mexico’s deeper waters near the Deepwater Horizon wellhead. In 2023, the projects began implementation of an additional eight expeditions.
Learn more about the results of 2022 expeditions and 2023 planned activities in the recording of the Trustees’ April 11 webinar. A StoryMap is also now available exploring the locations and types of activities conducted during the 2022 expeditions.
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